Daily Updates: May 2002
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cloudy weather

80°F (26.5°C)
Latitude: 0 deg 49.3'N
Longitude: 89 deg 37.3’W
Wind Direction: SSE
Wind Speed: 10 Knots
Sea State 2
Swell(s) Height: 2-4 Foot
Sea Temperature: 75°F (23.9°C)
Barometric Pressure: 1014.6 MB
Visibility: 10 Nautical Miles

what's to eat today?

Scrambled Eggs
Egg ’n Cheese Muffins
Blueberry Muffins

Clam Chowder
Spanish Rice
Chicken Fajita
Chili Relleno
Beef Tamales
Cheese Quesidillas

Cook Out
Shrimp Cocktail
Rolled Lox
Cubed Havarti and Brie
Grilled Steaks
Grilled Chicken Breast
Corn on the Cob
Baked Beans
Onion Bread Rolls
Blondie Brownies


Lost and found
June 3, 2002
by Lonny Lippsett

We had come to revisit “Rose Garden,” but instead we found “Rosebud.” We watched ABE and Alvin teaming up like tag-team wrestlers to explore the seafloor. We explored a previously unknown area of the seafloor and found a new vent field, brimming with mussels and white clams up to a foot long. And we discovered two extinct black smoker chimneys—the first evidence of hot hydrothermal venting on the Galápagos Rift.

Twenty-five years after hydrothermal vents and their surprising communities of life were discovered at the Galápagos Rift, we returned to the historic site. Our first mission was to return to “Rose Garden”—one of the most famous and well-visited vent sites in the world. First found in 1979, “Rose Garden” was filled with red-tipped tubeworms peeking out of 6-foot tall white tubes that swayed in shimmering warm vent fluids like flowers in the wind. Scientists had revisited the site in 1985, 1988, and 1990, and they had observed how mussels and clams had begun to overrun the tubeworm population. We had hoped to extend the longest-running investigation of how vent communities evolve over time, and how different vent animals move in and interact with each other.

But we found no signs of “Rose Garden,” nor any signs of previous visits. Instead we found a field of apparently fresh lava. We think a recent seafloor eruption of lava may have paved over “Rose Garden.”

But very nearby, we found a new community of very young clams, mussels, and tubeworms as small as 1 inch tall. We called it “Rosebud.”

“The new ‘Rosebud’ community could be very young—less than a year old,” said Tim Shank, our expedition’s Co-Chief Scientist. “We may have lost ‘Rose Garden,’ but we have found ‘Rosebud.’ Here is an exciting new opportunity to watch the development of a new community—almost from its very beginnings.”

We brought together an arsenal of deep-sea instruments to search for hydrothermal vents. A CTD, a towed deep-sea camera, and ABE scouted out seafloor areas by night for signs of active venting. And shortly after ABE surfaced at dawn, the data it collected through the night could be turned into detailed seafloor maps. Hot off the color printer, these maps were handed to Pilots and Observers about to head down in Alvin, who used them to guide their way.

On a day when the trail seemed to go cold, we found a new 60- by 50-meter vent community 200 miles west of the historic Galápagos Rift vent site, where none had ever been found before. Healthy mussels and large, white clams pile up in the cracks and crevices between black lava, where warm, chemical-rich fluid seep through to nourish them.

And finally, just yesterday, we found two extinct black smoker chimneys, which are formed by hydrothermal fluids at least 200°C (392°F). High-temperature vents have been found elsewhere on the mid-ocean ridge, but never on the Galápagos Rift.

Will we find active high-temperature venting on the Galápagos Rift in the future? Why do juvenile tubeworms, clams, and mussels all live together at “Rosebud”? Why aren’t there any tubeworms at the newest site? Why do the clams grow so large there?

We are still pioneers, seeking to understand a hard-to-explore frontier and the inhabitants in it. 

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